Doc, When The Team Breaks Down It’s Your Time To Lead

It happens to every doctor at some point in their career. The once productive, effective, and well functioning team falls apart and is now disorganized, confused, making excuses, and blaming one another.

Maybe it’s because of short staffing.

Maybe it’s a breakdown in communication or a lack of buy-in.

Maybe the right task wasn’t assigned to the right person.

Or maybe it’s a lack of ownership or a resistance to cooperate.

When the team breaks down, it’s time for the physician to lead, refocus, and redirect the team.

This can happen constructively by enhancing engagement or destructively leaving team members defending themselves. While the desired outcome is achieved in either case, the spirit and energy of the team is dramatically different.

When it’s done constructively the team works together. When it’s done destructively there may be divisiveness and irreparable damage to the team dynamics.

And that impacts the physician. It can derail your flow. It leaves a physician feeling disappointed, frustrated, and isolated.

A physician leads constructively when you:

  1. Acknowledge the breakdown and the emotions it elicits from a place of calm and peace. You’ve probably had the experience of a physician or leader who yells and criticizes the team or storms out of the room. Maybe you’ve been that physician. How did it make you feel? How did the team feel and react? When you look back at that moment, didn’t you wish it was handled with ease and grace?
  2. Ask for what you need to effectively execute the next step. Make your request from a place of peace and connection. What assistance do you need with the patient? What supplies or medication do you need? What other interventions are needed? Who will monitor the patient? Remember to explain to the team WHY it is important. Don’t assume they know. When team members understand their role and the needs of the team buy-in is created.
  3. Appreciate what’s working. Be in gratitude for your leadership skills, the individual talents of the team members that add to the collective strength of the team, members operating in their zone of genius, and the new connections made as a result of effective team building to overcome the challenge.

When medicine is your calling, physicians understand the many roles they have to deliver the best patient care. Leadership is one of them. Leading with the right energy benefits the patient, the team, and the physician.